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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness




Why focus on memory services?

  • It is estimated that there are currently 700,000 people in the UK with dementia, and this number is expected to double over the next 30 years, putting increasing pressure on services and making the quality of care more important than ever.
  • The National Audit Office report Improving services and support for people with dementia, found shortcomings in current systems of care, but also identified that improving the quality of services for people with dementia could both enhance the quality of people’s lives and create savings through reduced use of acute services and admission to care homes.
  • Since 2009 there has been a new national focus on the quality of memory services, with the launch of the National Dementia Strategy, followed by an implementation plan, setting out what is expected of health and social care organisations and how their performance will be assessed. 
  • The National Audit Office has questioned whether the ambitions set out in the National Dementia Strategy are being delivered.
  • In addition, the NHS Operating Framework for 2009/10 identifies dementia services as one of the areas for local consideration. 


Why accreditation is important

  • The Prime Minister's Challenge on Dementia (2012) includes an action to, "work with the Royal College of Psychiatrists to drive up the proportion of memory services that are that individual organisations can benchmark and report their own performance to drive improvement."
  • The All Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia report Unlocking Diagnosis (2012) recommends "Accreditation for memory services should be mandatory." The group reviewed evidence on the effectiveness of MSNAP and believes all UK memory services should take part.
  • Guidelines developed by NICE and the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) clearly identify key ways in which services can improve the quality to the life of people with dementia at all stages of their illness.  Our accreditation programme can support services to improve and demonstrate the quality of care they provide to service users and carers, their wider organisation and commissioners.
  • As a national policy priority, the Department of Health has signified that development and implementation of high quality, locally owned action plans to improve dementia care will be an important part of the assessment process for SHAs, PCTs and, by implication, organisations providing care. Our accreditation process supports this local action planning and encourages continuous quality improvement.    
  • Services are able to demonstrate that they meet national guidelines and standards, such as the NICE Quality Standard for Dementia and CQC requirements.  This can form part of the information they provide to regulatory bodies, as recommended by the National Quality Board.
  • Information gathered through the accreditation process can be used in Trust quality accounts, as recommended by the National Quality Board, which is mandatory.
  • A report by the National Audit Office[3] recommends that “… Primary Care Trusts commission sufficient memory services, which are based on best practice and accredited by the Memory Services National Accreditation Programme(p. 12)

Benefits of the accreditation process

  • A wide range of stakeholders are involved, including staff from all professional backgrounds, service users and their carers and our partner organisations.
  • Development support: Services are supported to identify and address areas for improvement.
  • Active on-going network support:  Members are supported to share best practice, seek advice and pool learning through a regular newsletter, email discussion group, annual conference and publication of resources on our website.
  • Sharing good practice:  Services are engaged with a network of peers, enabling sharing of good practice and providing a forum for advice and information sharing.
  • Personal development:  Individuals can receive training in peer reviewing and are able to visit another memory service(s) as part of the review process.
  • Spread of learning within the organisation:  Learning and innovations arising from the process are often spread beyond the participating service to other services within the organisation.
  • Benchmarking and trend analysis:  We produce a biannual national report enabling services to benchmark their own performance against other services, and to identify trends in service provision.

Where next...

MSNAP | 21 Prescot Street | London | E1 8BB


Tel: 020 3701 2656 / 2655 Fax: 020 3701 2761 Email:

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